It is no exaggeration to say that humor is highly infectious-even more infectious than a cold. Actually, humor is not only infectious, it is contagious. The sound of a hearty roaring laughter automatically makes us smile even when we have no clue what the person might be laughing at. Laughter has a way of binding us together-sharing in each other’s happiness. Health-wise, laughter has physiological and psychological health outcomes. For example, it fortifies our immune system. It reduces stress levels and pain. It also decreases inter-personal and intra-personal conflict. Interventional scientific studies affirm the preventive and therapeutic properties of spontaneous laughter.
Laughter has been found to have positive effects on the following:
- Blood Pressure: When a person has a hearty laugh, initially their blood pressure rises, but then it immediately falls to levels below normal, and levels off to normal levels.
- Hormones: Science claims that laughter is associated with reduction of four neuro-endocrine hormones that are associated with stress. These hormones are epinephrine, cortisol, dopamine, and growth hormone.
- Immune system: Findings of studies by Leek Berk of Loma Linda University claim that laughter strengthens the immune system and increases infection-fighting antibodies.
- Brain Function: Hearty laughter stimulates both sides of the brain and keeps the brain alert, which in turn enhances learning and information retention.
- The Heart: According to a study at the University of Maryland Medical Center, laughter can help protect against heart attack.
- A Good Workout: Laughter is said to be equivalent to internal jogging. William Fry, Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University, claims that one minute of laughter is equal to ten minutes on the rowing machine.
- Mental and Emotional Health: Our moods are elevated when we find humor in difficult situations.
Is it any wonder then that the Bible asserts that “A merry heart does good, like medicine,” (Proverbs 17:22). Again the Bible has proved to be millennia ahead of science in health promoting principles.
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